If you were howling when you read the subject recommendations for “evidence-based art,” perhaps you know a thing or two about visual art. You may be an artist, an interior designer, or a collector. You may be a gallery-goer, a museum devotee, or a fine-art gadabout, like me. You may have studied some art history, entered the art market, or even followed innovative art practices that are leaving galleries and museums behind.
But we must recognize and acknowledge that we arts professionals and enthusiasts, by virtue of our practice, experience art differently from other people. Our preferences are different. We have developed cognitive tools that we can bring to “challenging” works of art. We can derive pleasure, and other rewards, from works of art that cause others wrinkle their noses. These differences are clearly demonstrated in any number of laboratory and real-world studies.
Healing art must address each individual person, equipped whatever his or her experience may be. Healing public art must address a broader audience than those of us who are regularly having conversations about art.
Once we see healing art as part of the “environment of care,” then we can see that healing art programs are instrumental to an overall “caregiving” enterprise. The first object of any caregiver is “do no harm.”
Poor choices in healing art design can do real harm: a designer may have to set aside his or her own preferences to make good choices.